Quickdraw Analysis by Carol Ann Duffy

This is an analysis of the poem "Quickdraw" by Carol Ann Duffy.


The poet uses an extended metaphor, comparing an argument over the phone in a relationship to a gunfight in the Wild West. Carol Ann Duffy considers the ways that people in a relationship try to hurt each other with words. 

At the end of the poem "Quickdraw", it is left unclear if the arguments is resolved or whether the couple breaks up for good.

Analysis of  Quickdraw:

Stanza 1

I wear the two, the mobile and the landline phones,
like guns, slung from the pockets on my hips. I’m all
alone. You ring, quickdraw, your voice a pellet
in my ear, and hear me groan.
The simile that opens the poem compares phones to guns, suggesting that they both have the power to injure.

'Slung' This suggests the speaker keeps the phones ready at all times like one might hold on to a gun if they were in danger.

The enjambments on this line emphasises the word 'alone', maybe suggesting that the speaker is lonely or vulnerable.

The speaker addresses the reader as the other person in the gunfight. This short sentence is broken up by a comma suggests how quickly the speakers answer the phone after it rings- they are obviously ready for a fight.

The metaphor comparing the other person's words to a gun pellet, as well as the word 'groan', suggest that the speakers has been injured by the other person's words.

Stanza 2

You’ve wounded me.
Next time, you speak after the tone. I twirl the phone,
then squeeze the trigger of my tonge, wide of the mark.
You choose your spot, then blast me
The use of a short sentence and the simplicity of the statements emphasises the speaker's hurt.

"You’ve wounded me" The unusual placement of this lines suggests the chaos of a gun battle.

This phrase "Next time" as well as the highlighted words suggest that the speaker is ready for the next attack.

"then squeeze the trigger of my tongue, wide of the mark." The alliterations here emphasises the violence of the words, but the second part of the sentence shows us that the speaker's attack was not successful.

"choose your spot, then blast me" This suggests that the other person is carefully calculating how to inflict the most pain, emphasised by the simple but violent word 'blast'.

Stanza 3

through the heart.
And this is love, high noon, calamity, hard liqour
in the old Last Chance saloon. I show the mobile
to the sheriff; in my boot, another one’s
"through the heart" The enjambment here emphasises where the speaker has been hurt - their heart - traditionally a place that represents love.

The speakers suggest that love is always violent. It sounds like a statement, but also a question.

"high noon, calamity, hard liqour
in the old Last Chance saloon

The list here shows objects traditionally associated with the Wild West, suggesting that love is chaotic, violent and dangerous.

The stanza ends on an unfinished sentence, suggesting that there is a further fight still to come.

Stanza 4

concealed. You text them both at once. I reel.
Down on my knees, I fumble for the phone,
read the silver bullets of your kiss. Take this …
and this … and this … and this … and this …
The word "concealed" suggests that the speaker has some secret weapon hidden away.

"I reel. Down on my knees" All these words suggest that the speaker has been wounded again, perhaps fatally.

Comparing kisses to silver bullets suggest that they are violent and dangerous, but also changes the tone of the poem as this is the first time we have seen any sign of affection between the two.

"Take this …
and this … and this … and this … and this …

The last lines could suggest the end of the battle with one of the couple killing the other, but in the context of the line before could also represent the kisses being given to end the fight. Either way ellipsis and repetition emphases these lines.


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